The Top 12 Dog Breeds That Kill Snakes

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Updated: October 24, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Dogs haven’t been bred or typically trained to kill snakes, but some canines have the hunting skills, alertness, and protective and loyal temperaments to defend a person if a snake is a threat.
  • There are multiple stories online of how breeds including Airedale Terriers, Dachshunds, German Pinschers, and Jack Russell Terriers have stood up to snakes.
  • If your dog saves you from a nasty encounter with a snake but is bitten, take your pet to the vet immediately. Dogs survive snake bites around 95% of the time if treated promptly.
This is our top list of dogs that will eradicate snakes!

Do you have ophidiophobia? If you do and you want to prevent any slightly dangerous meetings with a snake, then you might be looking into all the possible ways to do so. One of them would be getting a dog breed that kills snakes.

This is a good idea, to say the least, especially for those living in areas infested with snakes or in countries with a large number of venomous snakes. For example, suppose you live in Australia and have a job that involves traveling and being outside quite often. In that case, you should rely on one of the 12 dog breeds mentioned below.

As such, without any further ado, let’s look at some dog breeds that can kill snakes — and how they do so too!

Have Dogs Been Trained to Kill Snakes?

No, dogs usually aren’t trained and haven’t been bred throughout history to hunt and kill snakes. It’s very important to point this out: if you get one of the dog breeds below, you won’t get a trained snake hunter and killer.

Instead, you’ll get a friend who will most likely take the bullet if you ever come across a snake that turns aggressive.

It’s also worth mentioning that roughly 95% of dogs survive snake bites if taken to the vet promptly. So if your furry friend saves you from a nasty encounter with a snake, check with your vet as soon as possible.

1. Airedale Terrier

Airedale standing on top of column

The Airedale Terrier is a terrier breed that originates from the




River Aire



King of Terriers
Bingley Terrier
Waterside Terrier
22 – 24 inches (56 – 61 cm)35 – 50 lbs (16 – 23 kg)7 – 14 yearsWorking dog; hunting dog; stoic; stubborn.

The Airedale Terrier is a terrier breed that originates from the dale (valley) of River Aire, hence its name. It is the result of the breeding between the Old English Black and Tan terrier, the Otterhound, and other Terrier breeds. The Airedale contributed to creating other breeds, the most notable being the Yorkshire Terrier.

Pertinent to the topic at hand is the Airedale’s temperament. It has been bred to be able to hunt independently. As a result, the breed is highly intelligent and strong-minded. Loyalty towards the owner is another essential characteristic the breed has.

There are multiple stories online that tell of Airedales standing up to snakes.

2. Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier standing at attention

The Australian Terrier is alert, spirited, and aggressive in hunting.


Aussie10 inches (25 cm)14 lbs (6.5 kg)12 – 14 yearsAlert, aggressive, and spirited.

Australian Terriers are regarded as the smaller type of terrier. They were developed in Australia, but the ancestors of the Australian Terrier can be traced back to Great Britain. Overall, the breed appears small and harmless. Their temperament, however, is what makes Australian Terriers great guards against slithering reptiles.

The Australian Terrier is alert, spirited, and aggressive in hunting. It is regarded as highly intelligent and would never back down if its owner is under attack. On the other hand, the breed is incredibly friendly with people, making for a great addition to families with kids.

Australian Terriers are known as trusted watchdogs with developed skills in terms of eliminating snakes and rodents.

3. Cairn Terrier

A Cairn Terrier standing in a field.

The Cairn Terrier is one of the region’s earliest breeds bred for working.


9 – 13 inches (23 – 33 cm)10 – 16 lbs (4.5 – 7.3 kg)12 – 17 yearsActive, working dog.

Originating in the Scottish Highlands, the Cairn Terrier is known as one of the region’s earliest breeds bred for working. Its name comes from the cairns it had to chase quarry around. Like most terrier breeds, the Cairn Terrier has a small stature and is known for its weather-resistant coat.

As with the other breeds mentioned in the article, the online medium points out sufficient proof as to why the Cairn Terrier is effective against snakes. After all, it is a well-known fact that terrier breeds have been heavily trained throughout history to hunt small-sized animals. For them, a longer snake is not an issue.

4. Dachshund

dog ramp for stairs

Dachshunds have an almost innate sense of chasing small animals.


Wiener dog, badger dog, sausage dogRabbit – 9 -13 inches (25 – 32 cm)
Miniature – 12 – 15 inches (30- 37 cm)
Standard – 14 – 19 inches (35 – 47 cm)
Kaninchen (rabbit) – 8 – 11 lbs (3.5 – 5 kg)
Miniature – under 12 lbs (5.5 kg)
Standard – 16 – 32 lbs (7.5 – 14.5 kg)
12 – 16 yearsPlayful, stubborn, determinate, ferocious.

The Dachshund is a very popular breed nowadays, thanks to its somewhat silly look. On top of that, the breed is also known to be extremely playful, an aspect that makes Dachshunds perfect for families with children.

On the other hand, you must remember that the breed is designed for hunting. If the Dachshund has been trained to hunt, you will most likely have to deal with a stubborn dog. They are ferocious when hunting and quite determined. Dachshunds have an almost innate sense of chasing small animals.

Dachshunds are prolific online for obliterating snakes that enter their territory or threaten the safety of their owners.

5. German Pinscher

German pinscher standing tall in front of shrubs

The German Pinscher is highly intelligent, agile, and spirited.

©Dora Zett/

Deutscher Pinscher, Standard Pinscher18 – 20 inches (45 – 50 cm)30 – 45 lbs (14 – 20 kg)12 – 14 yearsTempered, spirited, intelligent, loving;

The German Pinscher is another fan-favorite, this time due to its slim fit and robust look. From more than a mile away, it can be seen that this dog has been bred to hunt. The Deutscher Pinscher is a terrier, like most breeds on our list, however, it’s a part of the Schnauzer and Pinscher groups.

The breed is known as even-tempered and ideal for families with children. As you may have noticed, pretty much all terrier breeds are perfect around children and full houses overall. The German Pinscher is highly intelligent, agile, and spirited, to name a few of its qualities. It has been bred as a ratter — small vermin don’t stand a chance in front of a Pinscher.

Like Dachshunds, the online medium has more than enough proof confirming the German Pinscher’s cunning and agility against snakes.

6. Jack Russell Terrier

Dog, Dog Walking, Walking, Hiking, Leash

Jack Russell Terriers are working dogs bred to chase foxes inside their dens and scare them out.


Jack Russell, JRT, Jack9.8 – 14.9 inches (25 – 38 cm)14 – 18 lbs (6 – 8 kg)13 – 16 yearsStubborn, intelligent, fearless, athletic;

Another small terrier on our list is the famous Jack Russell, originally bred to hunt foxes in England. The main characteristic of the breed is its sheer energy. JRT owners are well aware of the fact that their dog needs high levels of exercise before having to take a rest. This, in turn, makes them extremely agile in getting rid of snakes.

Jack Russell Terriers are working dogs bred to chase foxes inside their dens and scare them out.

While JRTs are on par with the previous breeds regarding snake killing, one video online shows a Jack Russell fighting a cobra.

7. Lakeland Terrier

The Lakeland Terrier is regarded as the smallest of black and tan terriers.


12.9 – 14.9 inches (33 – 38 cm)15.4 – 17.6 lbs (7 – 8 kg)12 – 16 yearsFriendly, daring, intelligent, independent, confident;

Lakeland Terriers are another small and cute breed. You can often see them around families with children, mainly thanks to the breed’s friendly and confident temperament, even though it’s also independent. Families prefer the breed because it is hypoallergenic!

The Lakeland Terrier is regarded as the smallest of black and tan terriers. To compensate for its size, the breed is compact and sturdy, making it both an excellent playmate and a cunning hunter.

8. Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer was bred as a highly efficient ratting dog.

©Oakland Images/

Dwarf Schnauzer11 – 14 inches (28 – 36 cm)11 – 20 lbs (5 – 9.1 kg)12 – 15 yearsAlert, spirited, obedient, intelligent, friendly;

This is the most popular Schnauzer breed out there, thanks to its size and fluffiness — and characteristic mustache, in some cases. The Miniature Schnauzer was bred as a highly efficient ratting dog — it had to be small enough to chase and catch all types of small vermin.

Miniature Schnauzers are sought after thanks to their temperament and size. They own guarding tendencies but lack the predisposition to bite, which means they’re perfect family dogs. They’re always on alert and highly intelligent. In short, a snake won’t have enough time to come anywhere near you as a Miniature Schnauzer will take care of it!

9. Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier sitting in grass

Norfolk Terriers are regarded as having the softest temperaments out of all terrier breeds.


9.8 – 11.8 inches (25 – 30 cm)11 – 13 lbs (5 – 6 kg)12 – 15 yearsConfident, spirited, loving, social, fearless

The Norfolk Terrier is one of the smallest working terriers, alongside the Norwich Terrier. It is sought-after by families with children thanks to its plush size, aspect, and loving and social temperament. Norfolk Terriers are regarded as having the softest temperaments out of all terrier breeds.

The breed has watchdog tendencies, alerting you if a snake gets too close to be comfortable. Norfolk Terriers are natural hunters and cannot resist hunting down small vermin.

10. Rat Terrier

Rat Terriers are known as hunting companions and farm dogs, being actively kept for pest control by farmers.


American Rat Terrier, Decker Giant, Ratting Terrier10 – 18 inches (25 – 46 cm)10 – 25 lbs (4.5 – 11.3 kg)15 – 18 yearsSpirited, intelligent, alert, loving;

Rat Terriers are known as hunting companions and farm dogs, being actively kept for pest control by farmers. At the same time, thanks to their loving and alert temperament, Rat Terriers make for great family pets.

The breed craves socialization and must be introduced to places and people early. When socialization is done right, the Rat Terrier becomes highly trainable — an ideal pet when you fear snakes and other small vermin.

11. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier standing outside in grass

The West Highland White Terrier was originally bred to hunt rodents and small vermin.


Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier9.8 – 11 inches (25 – 28 cm)15 – 20 lbs (6.8 – 9.1 kg)12 – 17 yearsFriendly, alert, active, brave, cheerful, independent;

Some wouldn’t think such a cute, small terrier could take down a snake. However, the West Highland White Terrier is known for its high prey drive — it was originally bred to hunt rodents and small vermin.

Social, active, and friendly, the Westie is the ideal breed for families with children or who like to interact with their pets multiple times throughout the day. Remember that the breed can be stubborn and hard to train, so you must be persevering.

12. Yorkshire Terrier

Cute small Yorkshire Terrier is playing with ball on a green lawn outdoors.

Yorkshire Terriers are highly social dogs and don’t like being left alone.


Yorkie8 – 9 inches (20.3 – 22.8 cm)4 – 7 lbs (1.8 – 3.1 kg)13 – 16 yearsDaring, independent, brave, intelligent, confident;

Last but not least, the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the smallest terriers and dogs overall. The breed is known for its long, soft coat that needs more than just regular grooming. Yorkshire Terriers are highly social dogs who don’t like being left alone and are prone to developing separation anxiety.

The breed is highly active, curious, but most importantly, protective. Yorkshire Terriers have watchdog tendencies and bark a lot when faced with potential danger. This makes them ideal companions for those living in snake-infested areas.

Ultimately, it goes without saying that most terriers are ideal choices if you want to keep snakes away from your yard or home.

Summary Of The Top 12 Dog Breeds That Kill Snakes

RankDog Breed
1Airedale Terrier
2Australian Terrier
3Cairn Terrier
5German Pinscher
6Jack Russell Terrier
7Lakeland Terrier
8Miniature Schnauzer
9Norfolk Terrier
10Rat Terrier
11West Highland White Terrier
12Yorkshire Terrier

Do Domestic Cats Kill Snakes?

Ugliest Cats - Cornish Rex

Certain domestic cat breeds like the Cornish Rex are more likely to go head-to-head with snakes.


Domestic cats do have the ability to kill snakes. Whether an individual cat will or not is the question. Cats typically prefer chasing or killing smaller animals like rodents, birds, and insects. They have great reflexes and love the challenge of the hunt. This can translate to snakes if the snake does not largely outside them, and if it’s not perceived as a serious threat. Larger cats like Maine coons have been known to attack and kill snakes, though they are larger and slower than some other breeds, and don’t rank at the top of snake-killing cats. It’s important to remember that cats are not immune to snake venom, so there is the threat that a venomous snake could kill your cat.

Depending on your cat’s temperament, it may play with the snake or try to capture it, but not kill it ultimately. Some cats may lose interest or take no interest at all in combat. Cats can go on the offensive or defensive with their sharp claws, and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 30mph, compared to 3-12 mph for the average snake. In some countries like India, domestic cats are kept for the purpose of keeping down rodent and snake populations on properties. Cats that live in these environments where snake encounters are normal are more likely to be aggressive than a cat who rarely comes across one.

There are certain cat breeds that are more likely to give snakes a run for their money. While the Maine coon is larger, the breed is also slower and doesn’t stand out among those that will aggressively go after snakes. Breeds known to be aggressive towards snakes include:

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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